By Nicodemus Bassey
One of the cardinal principles of governance as espoused by President Muhammadu Buhari administration is strict observance of the rule of law and extant regulations of public service rules.
The President, since his election and assumption into office in 2015, didn’t mince words in telling all his appointees to adhere to these golden principles through personal declarations as well as administrative and bureaucratic channels of communications. It is also open secret that the President didn’t waste time in bringing to books all those that violate these principles.
I was thrilled when I watched the former Governor of Kano State, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau on Channels TV speaking on the tendencies of some public officials who stay in office after reaching their retirement age.
The Senator was specifically speaking about the tenure of the Armed Forces Service Chiefs who have all attained their retirement age, but still remain put in their offices thereby causing disaffection among junior officers who couldn’t move because of their refusal to leave and President’s decision to allow them be.
Senator Shekarau, a distinguished retired civil servant, among other things, said the retention of the service chiefs is against the public service rule and will endanger career progression of hundreds other officers along the ladder.
What came to my mind that was another news item I stumbled on social media which states that the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, is still in office after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 60. I didn’t take this serious having known how power tussle is being fought by Nigerians.
I did the needful by fact-checking these claims of the age of the Corps Marshal by logging into the official website of FRSC. Indeed, according to the information available at the website, Dr Boboye was born on November 26, 1960. By last week, November 26 to be precise, the Corps Marshal has statutorily and officially attained the retirement age of 60 years. By this alone, the FRSC boss’ continuous stay in office beyond the mandatory retirement age of 60 years is an infraction on extant public service regulations.
This is an obvious abuse of the rules that govern and regulate the appointment and tenure of public officers as provided for in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the FRSC Establishment Act 2007, the Public Service Rules, the approved FRSC condition of service and extant circulars.
The Public Service Rule (PSR) 020810 is abundantly clear on this issue as it states in inter alia thus: – (i) The compulsory retirement age for all grades in the Service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier.
(ii) No officer shall be allowed to remain in service after attaining the retirement age of 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier.
(iii) The provision of (i) and (ii) of the Rule is without prejudice to prevailing requirements for Judicial officers and Academic Staff of Universities who retire at 70 and 65 years respectively.
(iv) Provided the officer would not have attained the retirement age of 60 years or spent 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier.”
Just recently, the Head of Service of the Federation (HOSF) had a cause to issue a circular to all federal agencies thus: “For the avoidance of doubt and in order to maintain discipline and integrity of the Public Service, extant public service rule which prescribed 60 years of age or 35 years of service for mandatory retirement, should strictly be complied with.
“Accordingly, the following guidelines shall apply. (I) that career officers who take up tenured appointment should at the point of taking up the appointment retire from service to ensure they run their term uninterrupted.
“(II) that career officers who have not retired from service before the commencement of their tenured appointment must leave office on attainment of mandatory age/years of service for retirement and.
“(iii) that career officers who are currently holding tenured appointment are required to retire from service with immediate effect and continue to run their term. Failure to do so would mean that they would vacate office on attaining the mandatory age or at the expiration of their term which ever comes first.”
This means that, the Corps Marshal having reached the retirement age of 60, should have disengaged from the service irrespective of whether he completed his tenure or not.
Not long ago, the Corps Marshal had a cause to compel an Assistant Corps Marshal Omiyale Ayobami and Corps Commandant Frank Okwueze to retire based on their reaching the retirement age of 60.
President Buhari had renewed the appointment of Dr Oyeyemi on June 13, 2018, with effect from July 24, 2018. Oyeyemi was first appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan on July 24, 2014 for a four-year tenure.
The Corps Marshal began his career from the rank of a Superintendent Route Commander (SRC), and had spent before he was appointed as Corps Marshal on July 24, 2014.
It is clear that the Corps Marshal, who is one of the pioneer staff of FRSC when it was established in 1988, has made his mark and therefore needs to gracefully vow out as stipulated by law.
In the same vein, it is expedient to appeal to the Presidency, specifically, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), who supervises the FRSC on behalf of the president, to do the needful by correcting this anomaly which will go a long way in averting unnecessary power tussle in the Corps.
*Bassey wrote from Gwagwalada, Abuja.